Distinguishing Texture

Texture is frequently made up of many small and not so small bumps and dents. It is important to remember that a dent is a concave shape and therefore has its darkest dark closest to the direction of the light and contains no reflected light. A bump, on the other hand, is a convex shape and thus has its darkest dark away from the light and is subject to reflected light.

The edge of a cast shadow is also a place where we look for information about the texture of a surface. For instance, a cast shadow falling across a dog sleeping on a wooden deck has subtle variations in its edges that help define the texture of both the dog's fur and the wood. Points to remember about texture include:

  • On smooth objects, highlights are well defined. The degree of focus of the highlights' edges will define the smoothness of the object; the sharper the focus, the smoother the surface.
  • On rough objects, we look for texture in areas of the transition between light and shadow.
  • Texture is minimized in diffused light. It is also less apparent on objects seen in front light and back light.

This texture has many concave parts. The darkest darks of the indentations are on the parts nearest the light source.

This texture is made of convex parts. Look for the bumps' darkest darks on the side facing away from the light.

The edges of cast shadows contain information about the textures of the surfaces upon which they fall.

These differently textured cylinders are shown in the same lighting conditions. Notice how texture is obscured in the highlight and shadow areas. The best place to see, and thus depict, the texture of objects is in areas of transition from light to shadow. Study the ways various textures have been handled in this chapter and see which ones you can adapt to your own drawing techniques.

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